The types of amenities a horse farm should provide depends on the clients that horse business serves. Clients who compete on a regular basis and ride expensive horses require different amenities from clients who trail ride every once in a while and consider their horses pets.
This isn’t an excuse for humbler facilities to slack off in terms of amenities, but it does help to create some perspective.
Particularly in a rough economy, it is important for horse business owners to up the ante in terms of how they serve their customers. Building or implementing new amenities will draw in new faces and allow you to compete at a higher level in the horse business.
Large, Well-Built Stalls. A stall is a horse’s home, and owners want to know their horses will have sufficient room to move around, as well as a clean, structurally sound place to live. Stall mats are a big plus.
Storage Space. From saddles and bridles to grooming equipment and chaps, horse farms should provide clients with secure storage space. It could be a box in front of the horse’s stall or a locker in the tack room. You might even offer additional storage space for a fee.
Adequate Barn Ventilation. A horse farm needs a barn that allows horses (and their owners) to breathe. This means plenty of windows as well as stall fans in hot summer months.
Individual Turn-Out. Group turn-out works for some horse farms, but individual paddocks keep horses from hurting one another. Horse owners also want their horses turned out for them on a daily basis (weather-permitting).
Customized Feed Program. If possible, horse farms should try to accommodate their clients’ horses’ needs. This means adding supplements and medications to grain as needed and feeding a grain that is compatible each horse’s dietary requirements.
Wash Stalls and/or Stocks. A stall is not a good place to hose a horse down after a long summer ride or to facilitate a veterinary examination. Wash stalls and stocks are easy to build and maintain.
Trails. You don’t need 200 acres of dedicated trails, but it is a good idea for horse farms to provide enough land so that clients can get out of the arena every once in a while. Even a big, open field is sufficient.
Outdoor Arena. Providing a place for horse owners to ride their animals is top on the list. It should be a large arena with appropriate footing for the disciplines in which your clients ride.
Indoor Arena. During inclement weather or hot, stuffy afternoons, clients still want to work their horses. An indoor arena is an invaluable amenity for horse farms.
Round Pen. Whether they’re training babies or lunging instead of riding, clients want an accessible, properly-outfitted round pen. A covered round pen is also a growing trend for nicer stables.
Place to Relax. A rec room or similar area is a great horse farm amenity, especially if your clients spend a lot of time at the barn. It’s a place for them to relax and recharge after a strenuous ride. Equip it with a restroom and perhaps a couple vending machines, and you’re golden.
24-Hour Security. Your clients want to know that their horses and equipment are safe when they’re not around. Security doesn’t mean an armed guard patrols your facility at night. It means that someone—you, for example—lives on the property.
Competition Program. Just because someone owns a horse doesn’t mean he owns a truck and trailer. If you have a competition program at your horse farm, you can haul clients to horse shows and save them the headache. It’s also good for building community and teamwork among clients.
Fly Spray System. This is particularly important in the southern states. A fly spray system means horse owners don’t have to run to the barn three times a day to spray their horses down.
Gated Access. A controlled-access security gate will not keep out determined intruders, but it does impose a small level of security. Not only that, but this type of horse farm amenity increases the overall sophistication of your facility.
Horse Trailer Parking. Your horse business will become more attractive to serious horse owners if you provide them space in which to park their trailers. This way, they don’t have to pay for trailer storage elsewhere.
Equestrian Professionals on Staff. Horse trainers, riding instructors, and other equestrian professionals are excellent to have on staff. They are available when your clients need them, which will attract more business.
Twice-Daily Mucking. Horse owners know that their horses produce significant excrement—especially those who aren’t turned out. Twice-daily stall cleaning means there are fewer problems with insects, bacteria, fungus, and other issues.
Equine Monitoring System. This sounds a lot more sophisticated than it is. Basically, horse farms are most attractive when clients know their horses are looked after on a regular basis. Get into the habit of checking on all horses at least once a day to look for signs of injury or illness.
Accessibility. Can your clients find you when they need you? Do you spend a lot of time on your horse farm? Try to be as available to your clients as possible, and they will appreciate your devotion.
If you’re worried that you don’t offer most of these horse farm amenities, don’t worry. There is plenty of time to develop your enterprise and to build upon the horse business that you’ve created.
Make a list of the amenities you want to add to your horse farm, and a date on which you’ll be able to create or implement each one. It might take time, but you’ll get more business as a result.